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Using Refine Tool (CS5)

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Old Sunday 24th January 2016, 06:37   #1
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Using Refine Tool (CS5)

I would appreciate a little help or advice when using the refine tool to make an accurate selection using Photoshop CS5.
As you can see from the attached photograph my selections are not particularly clean or accurate and I still have untidy edges around the main image.
Obviously with birds etc I would like to capture all the fine feather detail cleanly and accurately without having to spend a lot of additional time trying to clean the edges up.
I am a relative novice however so would appreciate any help or advice as to where I'm going wrong, and any suggestions as to what settings I need to set the refine tool too would be most helpful.

In addition when I use the refine tool It appears that unless I hold my cursor down until I go round all the image I lose what I've already done and have to start again.
Having broken a finger a while ago I sometime find this a little difficult so am I able to save what I've done with the refine tool before letting go of the cursor ?

Any help or advice much appreciated - Thanks
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Old Sunday 24th January 2016, 15:32   #2
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It can take time to get a good mask, different tools are often needed for the different parts of the image.

The key is to create a layer mask rather than use the selection tools on there own. That way you can go back and fettle the mask to your hearts content and leave the original image as it is.

A good start is to use the Magic Wand, Quick Selection tool or paint on a Quick Mask to do a rough selection make that into a layer mask then use the Refine Mask tool and use the brush tool to paint onto your mask to tidy up the edges, vary the brush size using the [] square brackets, it is easier if you have a pen tablet but can be done with a mouse.

Using a mask you can easily see the results as you do it and the original is untouched so you can just throw the mask away and start again.

Hope that helps

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Old Monday 25th January 2016, 17:05   #3
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Make the selection as accurate as possible before using the refine mask tool. The quick selection tool is more sophisticated and accurate than its tool name suggests provided you sample areas outside the required selection using it in 'subtract from selection' mode.

Let's say you have started making a selection, everything is going fine but you come up against part of the subject that you wish to select adjacent to a background area that has similar colour/contrast. If you carrying on using the quick selection tool in the 'add to selection mode' the chances are it will jump onto areas that you don't wish to be selected on the background.

However, if you momentarily change the QS tool to 'subtract from selection' and sample an area outside (clear of) the area you don't wish to select it will hold this in memory, even after you have turned the tool back into 'add to selection' mode, reminding the tool to ignore such areas as you continue adding to the selection. You can resample unwanted areas at any time to update the tools memory.

In the case of your picture above it might have been better to select the sky first and then invert the selection to include only the bird. First used the QS tool in 'subtract from selection' mode and sample the birds green feathers, or tree bark, then return the tool to 'add to selection' and continued to select the sky, after the selection has been completed, inverted the selection so that the bird is now only selected. With plain backgrounds it is often better to select the background first and then invert the section.

A minus selection is very powerful, in conjunction with making the QS tool sampling area as small as possible when confronted with subject areas that almost merge into the background. A quick sampling on unwanted areas using 'subtract from selection' mode will make selections less of a headache.

Last edited by Nick Walker : Monday 25th January 2016 at 21:26.
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Old Tuesday 26th January 2016, 17:49   #4
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I should have added when you make a QS 'subtract from selection' sample for the tools memory make it as close as possible to the boundary edge of the selection, but do not overlap the boundary between the intended selection and unwanted areas.
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Old Wednesday 27th January 2016, 12:47   #5
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Not easy as Mono wrote:

Two things to decide.

1. How much time and effort you are prepared to put into the post production.

2. Is it really worth it? By that I mean you can spend hours fiddling around for the image to be finally reproduced 2 inches x 1 inch, and all that work is meaningless because of the size and the final printing.

But, if you're going to exhibit on a large scale, or have a cover image then it is worth putting the time and effort in.

I would do as Mono suggests, but I would create channels, you can then use a hard brush to define (add or subtract) the edge. By having an inner and outer channel you can then work on the edge, either with the blur, smug, or airbrush, or whatever means you are comfortable with.

And that's the key, it's what you feel achieves the best results for you.
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Old Wednesday 20th July 2016, 15:59   #6
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If the image is complex and quick selection tools will not yield a fast selection, best to use the pen tool to trace around the areas. It will be quicker and accurate in the long run. This path can then be converted to a layer mask and the mask can have a gaussian blur applied to it to allow the edges to blend with any new background.
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